Matt Cooke: I've changed, and didn't intend to injure Tyson Barrie

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Matt Cooke of the Minnesota Wild was handed a seven-game suspension on Wednesday for his knee-to-knee hit that injured Avalanche defenseman Tyson Barrie. On Thursday he gave a brief statement without taking questions.

In the short statement to the media, Cooke explained that he's not the same player he was many years ago and it was not his intention to hurt Barrie.

From Michael Russo at the Star-Tribune, the entirety of Cooke's statement. He did not take questions.

"First and foremost, I want to say that I'm disappointed and sorry that Tyson Barrie can't play for the Colorado Avalanche tonight. I wish that he could. Unfortunately, it was not my intent to collide with him knee-on-knee. It was my intent to finish my check. Playoffs are a hard and physical time and it's my job to be physical. I've led my team in hits in all three games and it's an intense time. I've led my team this year in hits and in this series.

"Since March 20, 2011 (the elbow to Ryan McDonagh that resulted in a 17-game suspension), I've been a changed player. I've approached the game differently, I think differently about the game. That stats that I've collected over those three seasons prove that I'm a changed player and the plays that I make and the plays that I don't make prove to that point as well. At the end of the day, this situation was not my intent."

Cooke could have been as contrite as possible and still many fans won't believe it (though it's hard to accept this was truly his intent). His actions earlier in his career that led to so many fines and suspensions -- and others that didn't like his hit that helped end Marc Savard's career -- have made it all but impossible for many to give him the benefit of the doubt, even if he has changed his game.

Now with his hit putting Barrie on the shelf for 4-6 weeks with a knee injury, whatever good will he might have restored in many minds disappears that quickly.

The Wild will look to even their series with the Avalanche on Thursday night with Game 4 in Minnesota.

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